Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Took Home 1st Place for Cream Pies at the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest!

Our prize-winning pie!

The much anticipated KCRW Good Food Pie Contest happened yesterday and I can't believe I'm saying this - in fact, it's still shocking to say out loud, but typing is a little easier: My mom and I won 1st place in the Cream/Custard/Chiffon/Mousse category! Ahhhhhhhh! Ok, had to get that scream out of my system. Ahhhhh! Nope, it's not all out.

The lovely cross-section

Our winning pie was a Chocolate Caramelized Bananas and Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with a garnish of Caramelized Peanuts. We are suckers for chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas. Both my mom and I tested the pie recipe separately, varying it slightly to see what worked best. Friday night when we made the official pie we'd be entering into the contest (together under one roof because my mom flew down from the Bay Area!!!), we changed the chocolate cookie crust one more time. Third time's the charm! And practice makes perfect!

My sister, me, and my mom with our pie!

With close to 150 pies entered and all of them looking interesting or gorgeous, the competition was fierce! We were honored to be among such a talented mix of professionals and amateurs. It was fun to chat with the entrants while we waited for judging to begin. Plus being surrounded by such an esteemed judging panel, I was swooning and dying from celebrity chef and food figure sightings. It's one thing to be a fan of a famous chef or food writer, it's another to have them be a fan of your pie! The tables have turned, if just for one day, and I'm bursting on the inside!

The ribbons table

Watching chef Eric Greenspan of The Foundry on Melrose taste my pie and give the "oooooh-yummy-I-like-this" look of the century was incredibly exciting. Mark Peel, chef and founder of Campanile and La Brea Bakery, Stefan Richter, Top Chef Season 5 contestant and chef of Stefan's at LA Farm, and Russ Parsons, the LA Times food editor, offered me similar looks. I wish I could bottle up the thrill of seeing that. Greenspan and others even returned to my pie for additional tastes later in the judging process. So glad my sister got a short video of Greenspan mid-taste...

We are plating the pie for the judges

To go back a few steps and explain the day from the beginning, first I registered my pie entry when I arrived and was then taken to the tables where the pies would be displayed. This event took place in the giant Westfield shopping mall in Topanga, CA. The general public looked on from the other side of the ropes as I cut my pie into 8 pieces. 2 of those 8 would be plated for judges to sample. I took special care to make clean slices. I didn't know the judging rubric but I could have guessed presentation would be part of it. The slices came out great and showed off a fun multilayer cross-section. I was so relieved! Now, assuming the pie doesn't melt or deflate as it sits there unrefrigerated (cream pies aren't especially forgiving at room temperature for too long), my work is done and it's up to the Pie Gods to make miracles happen.

The Foundry chef-owner Eric Greenspan tastes our pie!

Russ Parsons, the LA Times food editor, tastes our pie!

Mark Peel, chef-owner of Campanile and La Brea Bakery founder, tastes our pie!

It took quite awhile for everyone who brought a pie to register and slice up their pie. Eventually, all the pies were out on display and the judges entered the area to perform their noble duty. I moved to the other side of the ropes blocking off the pie area, joining the general public, and watched judge after judge approach my pie to taste it. After a very long judging period and much deliberation and back-and-forth among the judges, the winners were determined.

Holding up my ribbon, biggest grin ever, and with
event host/food genius Evan Kleiman

Evan Kleiman, the incredible chef-owner at Angeli Caffe, star of Good Food on KCRW, and host of this pie contest, took to the mic and announced 3rd, then 2nd, then 1st place in each of the four categories: Fruit and Nut; Cream, Custard, Chiffon, Mousse; Savory; Interpretive (Defies Categorization); and then Best in Show. When she called Pie #22, our pie, I just about died. I put my hands over my face, Home Alone style, then pulled my mom's arm behind me, and we rushed up to receive our award ribbon and prizes. The LA Daily News snapped a pretty awesome photo of us as we heard our pie announced. As for prizes, we got a tote bag of cookbooks, wine, and a gift certificate to Westfield mall. Plus bragging rights! When all winners had been announced, the public was invited to taste the remaining pie slices. It was a mad dash to the tables, and so much fun!

2nd place in Creams Dan Hong (for his delicious banana cream pie)
stops for a photo with my mom and me

I can now check off Mother-Daughter Bake-off Experience from the list - though I wouldn't be opposed to more of those in the future. And how special to have my sister there cheering from the sidelines. We won an NPR bake-off? We love NPR!!!!! It was a really great day.

Oh, and at least for now, I'm keeping the winning recipe a secret. Sometimes I like a good mystery. :-)

Judge Eric Greenspan and me

Judge Mark Peel and me

With my friend Lindsay William-Ross, the editor of LAist

With Chrystal Baker, a fellow first place winner
but for the Savory category, and fellow food blogger!

With Max Lesser, fellow pie entrant and chef/owner
of the amazing Morning Glory Confections

A very appropriate pie contest entrant outfit -
matching aprons for mommy and baby

Some of the Pie Entries

Updated! Press and Blog Coverage


Mom said...

The whole experience was so much fun...sharing our passion for baking! I love your photos and videos. They remind me of all of the amazing entries. I still can't believe we won first place in the cream category! Hmmm, what can we create for next year's contest? :-)

MSPubRadSM said...

This is a beautiful post Marni, you and mom and sister are a terrific team, and I am so happy for you!

Warmest wishes,
Sarah Spitz KCRW

Jays said...

Many congratulations!!

David M said...

mm. yummy. since you won't share the recipe, you will have to give me a slice. :)

Carolyn Jung said...

You go, girl! That is AWESOME! And to be judged by the likes of Mark Peel and Russ Parsons, too, who both have such discriminating palates. Just goes to show that you and your Mom are a dynamic baking duo. Congrats to you both!

Dave D said...

You truly are the three sirens! Many congratulations to everyone for a job well done and a blog well worth the read.

Dan with the Plan said...

Hey Marni! It's Dan Hong! I found your link from the Good Food blog.

Congratulations again on first place! You really deserved it! You gotta let me in on that recipe!


The Duo Dishes said...

Congrats, congrats, congrats again! Saturday was a lot of fun. And thanks for giving us a shout out. :)

Vice Girl said...

i am so happy for you and your mom! what a great write-up of the experience. i'm thrilled about your win! now i just want to try the pie. ;)

Unknown said...

congratulations!! That is SO exciting. And now I have a great idea - can you make your winning pie for the potluck Sunday night???

shopeatsleep said...

That video is AWESOME! So proud of you, Marni (and Marni's mom)!

Shelly Borrell said...

Congratulations! Great post and the pie looks good :)

Marcie said...

KOVE IT!!!! Congratulations you guys! Thanks for all the pictures - it made me feel like I was there right along with you.

Marni said...

Mom - I absolutely loved entering this contest with you. Thank you so much for flying down for the weekend to be with Beth and me!!

Sarah - Thank you so much! KCRW did a great job putting the event together so a huge thanks to all involved. Sarah, it was great to meet you on Saturday.

Deborah - Thanks!

David - I might just do that. Give me a little time to recover and then I'll prepare the pie and share a piece with you.

Carolyn - Thanks! It's so true about the judging panel. They were a who's who of discriminating palates and incredible talent. I was so nervous!

Dave D - Thanks for the nice words. I like the sound of "the three sirens." :)

Dan Hong - I loved your pie, too! Congrats on your win. It was fun to share the experience with you!

The Duo Dishes - So nice meeting you at the contest! Congrats on your win.

Vice Girl - You are too sweet!

Jessica - Thanks!! I don't know about making it so soon again! We've already made the pie 3 times within a week! lol

Shopeatsleep - Aw shucks. Thanks!

Shelly - Thanks so much.

Marcie - Thanks. Glad you liked all the pictures. I posted a lot! Perhaps too many! You'd be shocked to know how many I didn't post!

TheLadysRevenge said...

I saw your pie over there at the contest and I have to say that it looked amazing! My roommate and I were sad we didn't get a chance to try it.

Great write up. And congrats!

Marni said...

The Ladys Revenge - Thanks for the nice words! Sorry you didn't get to try it. It was a madhouse in there as people rushed to taste pies! Hope to see you at another foodie event. :)

Kimberly said...

So are you going to post the recipe for this amazing creation? :)

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